In this introduction to TOGAF, we will cover high level topics of what TOGAF is, what it is used for and what roles it is most used in (i.e. is it right for you).
What is TOGAF 9.2?
TOGAF is an acronym for The Open Group Architecture Framework. Specifically, the Framework is currently on version 9.2 and is reviewed every few years to ensure it is still relevant and valuable to Enterprise Architects in the industry. Interestingly, although TOGAF does not have Enterprise in its acronym, this a crucial distinction to understand. As an Architect, I design systems that fulfil business requirements. TOGAF defines an enterprise as ‘to be any collection of organizations that have common goals.’ So, while Architecture is about designing a ‘solution’ to a problem, Enterprise Architecture is about designing a ‘solution’ that can be consumed by everyone in that organisation, not just the original stakeholder.
Example: Think about a requirement to design a call logging system for a Call Centre. In isolation, this is easy. Pop in a CRM with telephony integration and you can churn this out with minimal effort. However, consider a wider piece where all the contacts it are known customers, how do we get access to that data? Or do we create new customer records each time? What about financials, payments or refunds? Do we implement a means taking isolated payments, or do we consider the wider picture of Financial reconciliations against the modified orders? If those modified orders require replacements to be sent out, do we integrate directly with our warehousing system or just send a message to them to ask them to do something?
Hopefully you can see that a organisation that is large enough to multiple business areas (that could be silo’d) can introduce large redundancy into the business processes if consideration is not given for the wider enterprise context at the time of planning. This is Enterprise Architecture and it is a step above Systems/Security/Solutions/Information Architecture, requiring all of these to work together towards a common goal. TOGAF is a means of defining how to go about creating an Enterprise wide Architecture so that the whole business benefits from this common alignment.
Whats TOGAF used for?
We have covered that TOGAF is a Framework for defining Enterprise Architecture, but what does this actually look like? Before we go any further, it is important to note that Frameworks are designed for customisation and extension. TOGAF provides the frame and you will choose which bits to use and this may change over time. This flexibility is crucial to understanding the value TOGAF can bring to your enterprise.
TOGAF provides the Architectural Development Model (ADM) as a tried and tested method of iterating through your Architectural design process. I will do a series of posts on these as it is a large topic but in short it categorises the changes into the following phases.
- Preliminary Phase
- Phase A: Architecture Vision
- Phase B: Business Architecture
- Phase C: Information Systems Architectures
- Phase D: Technology Architecture
- Phase E: Opportunities & Solutions
- Phase F: Migration Planning
- Phase G: Implementation Governance
- Phase H: Architecture Change Management
- Requirements Management
This process is used to create architectural outputs for the 4 streams Business, Data, Technology and Applications that is typically either deliverables, artefacts or building blocks. Again, I will cover this is more detail in other blogs.
Should my business implement TOGAF?
This is an interesting question because the answer is wholly dependent on your use case. I’ve seem many smaller businesses work which such chaos that defining and taking a high level holistic approach to their business would be a big benefit, but EA is such a large over head that it is is probably not viable for them. I’ve equally worked with some larger businesses that are stifled in their growth because of overly aggressive EA processes. These processes made change so slow to implement that it felt like nothing ever happened. Ultimately, if TOGAF is implemented correctly, and it is tailored to your organisation, it will normally be of benefit and typically is more valuable the larger and more organisations your enterprise context holds. It’s up to you to understand TOGAF and how it could help your organisation to handle change. I think the biggest take away to this is that TOGAF should be tailored, so if its not working for you it could be that your initial evaluation of your business to decide what’s needed could have been off or outdated. Try revisiting and see whether your outcomes changed.
Should I learn TOGAF?
An understanding of TOGAF is valuable if you are an Architect or aspiring Architect at any level. Business Analysts and board members may find value in understanding the process, although they do not necessarily need to know the details.
It’s worth noting that as of writing this, TOGAF is free to use in your business so long as it is not commercially motivated. That is to say, I can implement TOGAF in my own business, but I can’t sell a service to implement TOGAF in someone elses business or sell training services (although I think a non profit blog for personal learning is fine, someone will tell me if it is not I’m sure). There are licences for both commercial and non commercial use that you should register for, but you can also get a 90 day evaluation period for the standard if you want to try it out.